Devon and Cornwall Police to review gun licences again after mass shooting in Plymouth

  • Watch Sam Blackledge's report

The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police has promised to carry out a detailed review of gun owners across the region in the wake of the Plymouth tragedy.

Will Kerr says he wants to be sure there is no remaining risk to the public after mistakes were made in allowing the Keyham attacker to legally own a shotgun.

But the families of the victims say change is taking too long and putting more lives at risk.

Chief Constable Will Kerr says he is 'determined' to learn and improve as a result of the tragedy. Credit: ITV News

In a letter to the Plymouth coroner, Mr Kerr committed to a further review of all the times a weapon was revoked, seized or surrendered by the police and then given back to its owner, which is what happened in Jake Davison's case in Keyham in 2021.

Mr Kerr says this review will go back five years, to 2018. He said he wants to ensure there is no remaining risk to the public.

"Devon and Cornwall Police are committed to learning from this tragic incident," he said.

"However, it nevertheless represents only part of a continuing process of improvement. I am determined that the lessons learned will not conclude with the writing of this report, and that we will continue to deliver the improvements in the years to come."

Jake Davison (pictured) killed five people before turning the weapon on himself.

The Government is still considering its response to the coroner's concerns, having been given more time to reply.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The UK has some of the strictest gun controls in the world, which we keep under constant review to preserve public safety.

"Since the tragedy in Plymouth, the Government has already taken steps to tighten firearms licensing including introducing statutory guidance for the police, and requiring that applications will only be considered if they include medical information from the applicant’s GP."

Lee and Sophie Martyn, Maxine Davison, Kate Shepherd and Stephen Washington lost their lives in Keyham in August 2021. Credit: ITV News

The families of four of the Keyham victims - Kate Shepherd, Lee and Sophie Martyn and Stephen Washington - said they are disappointed by the delays.

In a statement released through their lawyer, they said: "We are deeply disappointed that the Home Office has not responded within the timescale presented.  

"We are also alarmed that the suggested delays in implementing critical recommendations made by the senior coroner puts lives at risk.

"We urge all the relevant agencies and authorities to address the recommendations as a matter of urgency to prevent further shootings on the streets of Britain.

"When we have considered the reports in more detail we will respond more fully. Our priority is to ensure everything is done to prevent what happened to our loved ones from happening to anyone else."

Bill Harriman, from the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, says current gun laws are effective enough. Credit: ITV News

Pro-weapon lobby groups fear that any tightening up of the laws could impinge on the freedom of gun owners.

Bill Harriman, from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, told ITV News West Country: "We can all say 'Yeah, we've got a problem, throw some more law at it', but actually there's a lot of law there and it's the application of that law and the processes behind it.

"There needs to be that balance between public safety, and also a fair and effective licensing system, so that people who want to use firearms for either their work or for their recreation can do so within a proper framework, and public safety isn't compromised in any way."

Plymouth MP Luke Pollard wants the Government to act faster in implementing the coroner's recommendations. Credit: ITV News

Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard said: "I want to see a complete change in gun laws and practices, and clearly that means Devon and Cornwall Police acknowledging the catalogue of errors that they made leading up to the shooting, but also learning the lessons.

"It looks like some of those lessons are being learned, but it's taking too long and it's been too slow. I want to see a much faster acceleration of the new systems."

Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, said: "I know from discussions with Home Office ministers that they are taking this very seriously.

"I hope there will be a thorough review of the existing systems in terms of how people acquire firearms. There is growing public interest in this. I hope it will be a robust response from the Home Office and I will be calling for a thorough review of the licensing laws."